Friday, October 26, 2007

Aussie Trip Tips

These are some tips that my coworker who is already in Australia sent to me. I am sharing them here because they are amusing, and maybe interesting to some.

In response to my anxiety over how the whole visa process works:

"1. Fill out immigration form on plane.
2. Get off the plane.
3. Walk to immigration.
4. Show passport and smile.
5. Walk to baggage claim.
6. Get bags.
7. Walk to customs.
8. Show form to customs and smile.
9. Explain that you are smuggling in contraband and illegal substances… again smile.
10. Go through security.
11. Walk to exit.
12. Get in Taxi
13. Go to hotel
14. Check in, take shower, and begin feeling like a human again."

He is a smarty pants. :)

The formula for overcoming jet lag when I arrive:

"So, when you get on your way here you need to stay awake until about hour 3 of the flight to Sydney. You are not going to like it, you are going to be tired, but trust me stay awake. At hour 3 take some sleeping pills (if you have them) and sleep as long as you can. When you wake up there still will be about 2 hours of the flight left. Drink coffee with breakfast. When you land in Sydney it will be fairly early in the morning. Get to the hotel, unpack, shower but do not go to sleep. Get out of the hotel, take a walk to the harbor, do something to keep you busy until lunch. Have something to eat and go back to the hotel. Take a nap. Now this is very important: do not take a nap longer than about 2 hours otherwise you will have a hard time sleeping at night. Have an early dinner and stay awake until at least 8:30. If you can pull that off, then you should be fairly awake and ok on Monday."

Other general tips:

"-ATMs dispense Australian dollars, you won’t need to bring USD and change it to AUD
-Ride in the front of Taxis
-Australians don’t know how to form a line, they just form a mob.
-You don’t have to tip. If you do, only tip a small amount. If you pay with cash leave the “silver” change. On a CC, round up to the nearest $5 increment.
-Sydney is pretty formal, all the time.
-On the day you arrive, try to stay awake until 8:30 or 9 that night.
-I hope you like Asian/Thai/Sea food.
-Its summer here. For C to F temp conversion, double it and add 32. That should be about right.
-Lunch time is typically 1 PM. I recommend eating something for breakfast.
-Paper money is in $5 dollar increments. There are $1 and $2 coins, they are gold in color. Everything else is cents, although no pennies, everything rounds to the nearest 5 cents.
-They drive on the wrong side of the road, and the walk on the wrong side of the sidewalk.
-Power outlets must be turned on to work. Push the switch down.

Australian Language guide:
Fortnight = 2 weeks
Loo = Restroom
Lift = Elevator
Ta = Thank you
No worries = You’re welcome
Oh that’s alright = You’re welcome
Queue = Line
Cheers = Regards
Uni = Short for University or College
How you going? = How are you doing?
“and Bob’s your uncle” = “And that is that”.
“talked the leg off a horse” = done talking about that now
“give us a hoy” = call me
Mate = Buddy
Happy with that = I understand (can be a question, “Do you understand?”)
Dodgy = Shady, suspect, something isn’t quite right
The bill = (at a restaurant) the check
Angry Ben = $20 bill (they are red and have Ben Franklin on them)
Brekkie = Breakfast
Football = probably rugby, but can be Australian rules football or American football (see below)
Grid Iron = American football
Soccer = what everyone other than the US and Australia call football
The American Embassy = McDonald’s

Australian Coffee guide:
Short Black = Shot of Espresso
Tall Black = Shot of Espresso with water
Flat White = Shot of Espresso with milk
Latte = Shot of Espresso with steamed milk
Filtered Coffee = American black coffee"

So there you go, first hand travel tips in case you ever go to Australia. It should be fun. I'm sure they will love my accent as much as I will love theirs. :)

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Preparing for a Trip Down Under

I hear/read that Australians don't really call their country "Down Under," but I have to wonder how true that is given the popularity of the phrase. I guess I'll find out for myself soon enough. :)

Among other things I'm struggling with about this trip, it's Spring time in Australia - just as it's starting to feel like Fall here. I'm having a hard time wrapping my mind around that one, and truthfully, I'm tired of my warm weather clothes. :) To make this world adventure even more interesting, I have to fly to Indianapolis first, where it is quickly becoming Winter - by my Southern standards, anyway. My suitcase is going to be so confused.

I leave for Indy on the 30th, and then I leave Indy for Sydney on the 2nd of November. I won't be home again until November 16th - that's almost three full weeks. That's my biggest struggle. It's a LOOOONNGG way from home and a lot happens around my life in a month. Australia is 15 hours ahead of Birmingham, so the time difference is going to make communication interesting. There will be lots of email, I'm sure.

Everyone keeps telling me this is a "chance of a lifetime" because I will probably never get to go to Australia again (I might if my company has any say in it), and I DO get that. However, it would be a BETTER "chance of a lifetime" if Dave was going with me. He has a trial during that time, so he can't make the trip. Perhaps if I'd been married 20 years already, I might jump at the chance to spend three weeks away from my husband (I shudder at that thought, too, but that's a rant for another day), but right now I'm just sad about it. A night or two away is a good break when I need one, three weeks is a freaking long time, especially knowing I can't call him when I get up in the morning and when I go to bed at night because he will be sleeping or working or something. (By the way, I could never be in the military and be deployed for months or years at a time. Nothing doing there, and that's why I'm not.) And, how much will I miss my dog?!? She'll think I abandoned her. :(

All whining aside, I'll take this "chance of a lifetime" and enjoy it because I've always wanted to go to Australia. There are lots of things to see and do in Sydney, and I hear the shopping is good. That's a positive because since I'm losing the month of November to work, I'll need to do some Christmas shopping. I plan to blog from there, provided I'm not completely slammed with work and I don't forget my camera, so look for pictures in the next couple of weeks.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Jewel vs. The Lizard

As we pulled into the driveway after church on Sunday, Jewel was crossing the street from her other yard (the accross the street neighbors') with something in her mouth. This inspired a discussion of whether the thing was a mouse or a lizard and whether it was alive or dead. It was a lizard, and it was alive. I know this because she let it go and caught it again twice more before bringing it to the front porch for the final showdown.

I happened to be watching through the front door when I saw Jewel and the lizard squared off, face to face. That lizard was not going to go easily. It's mouth was open like it was hissing at her, and every time she moved it moved. The juked and jived for several minutes before she launched what I'm sure she expected to be the death blow. It was not. That lizard grabbed onto her toe and would not let go! She was slinging it around, biting it, and it was still hanging on. She finally gave a hard shake of the paw and the lizard released it's jaws and slammed into the glass door! It did not die. It slid to the ground and looked at her again. She walked off and started bathing like she meant for that to happen. When I left them, the lizard had mostly disappeared into a hole and she was diligently trying to pull it back out my the tail. I'm quite sure it died eventually due to internal injuries, but she didn't get the satisfaction of killing it.

Kitten Sittin'

Dave and I have a house guest for a couple of days - a calico kitten. Her name is Talim, but she goes by Kitty. She belongs to one of my coworkers, and we are keeping her because he's having some maintenance done in his apartment. Talim looks a lot like Jewel E. Cat; I think it's because of her stripes. Twice last night I saw her and thought she was Jewel.

My cats are wondering when we got a new cat, and the girls don't seem too thrilled with her - though they both enjoyed her food for breakfast. Gypsy spent the morning stalking and talking to the kitten, so I left her outside today. I felt that my Street Cat shouldn't be left unsupervised with an innocent. Jewel seemed a little shocked to see a new face in the house and decided to spend the day outside as well. Squirt (who is home for a visit - more about that later) doesn't seem to care, but Talim likes his tail. He lies with it hanging off the end table and it's just too much for her to resist. She was also intrigued to see other cats because she is an only cat at home. Squirt is keeping her company inside today.

Georgia is equally excited about and intimidated by the new kitten. She can only look at her from the corner of her eye for fear of the Evil Death Ray that is emitted when making eye contact with an unknown cat. Also, she is jealous and must sit on my feet and insist that I pet her instead of the kitten. However, she did feel compelled to pounce at said kitten this morning - which, as you can imagine, caused quite an uproar in my house.

The kitten is just young and fiesty enough to wander all over the house, transforming into a Halloween cat only when she hears a noise or sees movement. :) Dave is enjoying her kittenish ways - he played Dental Floss with her last night and loved it.

So, Squirt Black Cat - apparently he lives at my father's house now. Twice my brother has brought him home to our house because he was in their backyard, or better yet, he wandered into their house. He had been there before, but he's frequenting their yard more often now. My brother wants to keep him - I don't think he realizes that the choice isn't his. Squirt lives where he wants to live. He takes care of himself, too, since he comes home fatter than when he left. I think he's going to my dad's now because people and a dog moved into our old house. I'm hoping this means he'll start staying home, but I've been hoping that for 5 months now.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

A Tiny Taste of Paradise

Well, I guess the term "paradise" is relative, especially if you are a native of Mexico. At any rate, this is a picture of the waterfront in Progreso, Mexico. We stopped there for several hours while on our cruise. Progreso hasn't become a complete tourist trap yet, so I really liked it there. We visited the pink flamingo feeding area, the salt flats, and some Mayan ruins. There were thousands and thousands of pink flamingos there. They have a refuge for them, and if you kill one (by accident or otherwise) you go to jail. It was really cool to see them standing along the side of the road.

We had a wonderful time. I needed the week of thinking about nothing other than when and what I was going to eat again. And, Dave will tell you, I thought about that a lot. The food was fabulous and there was so much of it!

We also went to Cozumel, but we'd been there before. We just walked and shopped and ate some more. We did find an "Only a Dollar" store there, so I bought some wooden bracelets.

We are back to real life now and it will probably be another two months before I get to update this blog again. :(